Dating Your Vintage Jewellery

C CLASP (pre-1800): The C Clasp was the first style of clasp used in jewellery.  The earliest ones are just a rounded wire. Some other early styles include a more solid piece with a flattened top. In most cases, there is not much to hold the pin in place.

BACKUP PIN (1830-1850): used before safety clasps

PINS (1860-1889): Pin extending past the clasp could be early Victorian.  Shorter pins are usually later.

SAFETY PIN (1880-1890s): attached with chain


TUBE HINGE (until 1890s): the oldest type of hinge, the pin stem is attached to stationary end tubes on either side of the stem by a pin that goes through all three tubes.

STANDARD HINGE (1890s-present)

TUBE CLASP (1890-1940s), in Europe until 1950s

LOCKING C CLASP (1900+): Most brooches used C Clasps up until about 1900. Around this time, the locking C clasp was invented which used a locking mechanism to keep the pin from falling away from the C. Most brooches made today use some version of the locking C Clasp.

MODIFIED C SAFETY CLASP (1920s-present): new safety clasp

SOLDERING: Check for replacement soldering, which indicates faults and lesser value.

AIR BUBBLES: Air bubbles seen in stones is an immediate clue that the piece is glass.

BEZEL SET STONES: Fine Jewelry containing Diamonds or Precious Stones such as Rubies, Emeralds and Sapphires are either bezel-set, inset or set with prongs and will always have open-backs for maximum brightness.

Return to Eras & Types index

Claim your free Style Guide tips for buying vintage jewellery - free style guide Tips For Buying Vintage Jewellery
Tips For Buying Vintage Jewellery Online

This comprehensive guide includes:
* The 3 most important rules to ensure you don’t waste money
* Visual clues about the age of vintage jewellery items
* “Inside Secrets” about tie clasps, cufflinks and collar bars
* Search tips to find what you’re looking for
* How to be the successful buyer